World’s largest man-made sun tested by scientists in Germany

Thursday, March 23, 2017, 4:18 PM – Scientists in Germany tested the world’s largest artificial sun Thursday at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in the town of Jülich.

The project dubbed “Synlight” was created by researchers in an attempt to study how powerful light sources can be used to create carbon-free fuel.

Synlight consists of 149 high-performance Xenon short-arc lamps that simulate natural solar radiation.

The lamps are focused on a 20-by-20 centimetre area. The 350-kilowatt array can produce about 10,000 times the amount of natural solar radiation at Earth’s surface, according to a DLR press release

Image courtesy: DLR

With all of the lights pointed at the target area, temperatures can reach up to 3,000 oC, which is key when manufacturing fuels like hydrogen.

“Renewable energies will be the mainstay of global power supply in the future,” said DLR executive board member Karsten Lemmer in the release. “Fuels, propellants and combustibles acquired using solar power offer immense potential for long-term storage and the production of chemical raw materials, and the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. Synlight will enhance our research in this field.”

Because it produces no carbon dioxide when burned, hydrogen is considered to be the fuel of the future. However, it requires large amounts of electricity. Researchers hope to eventually bypass the electricity stage by harnessing energy from the sun, the Associated Press reported.

At 3.5 million euros ($5 million CAD), Synlight is quite expensive and to run for just four hours, the project requires as much electricity that a four-person household would use in a year, the news agency explained.

This is why scientists hope to eventually use actual sunlight instead of artificial light.

SOURCE: Associated Press| DLR

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